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Evaluation of energy, protein, and selected micronutrient density of homemade complementary foods consumed by children between 6 months and 23 months in food insecure woredas of Wolayita zone, Southern Ethiopia

Authors Abeshu M, Adish A, Haki G, Lelisa A, Geleta B

Received 13 May 2016

Accepted for publication 28 June 2016

Published 19 September 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 71—84


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Chandrika Piyathilake

Motuma Adimasu Abeshu,1,2 Abdulaziz Adish,3 Gulelat D Haki,4 Azeb Lelisa,5 Bekesho Geleta6

1John Snow, Inc, 2Addis Ababa University, Center for Food Science and Nutrition, 3Micronutrient Initiative Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; 4Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana; 5Micronutrient Initiative Ethiopia, 6Ethiopian Public Health Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Abstract: Complementary feeding should be timely, adequate, and given in a way that is appropriate for the age of the child, applying responsive feeding to fill the gap between what is provided by breastfeeding and the total nutritional requirements of the infant. The purpose of this study was to assess nutrient composition and evaluate adequacy of observed nutrient densities (energy, protein, calcium [Ca], iron [Fe], and zinc [Zn]) in homemade complementary foods for children of age 6–23 months, in comparison to the desired levels in food insecure woredas of the Wolayita zone, Southern Ethiopia. A cross-sectional weighed food record method was used to assess the energy and micronutrient compositions of homemade complementary foods and evaluate adequacy of observed nutrient densities in relation to the desired levels. Multistage sampling was used to locate the children. Observation and measurement of complementary food preparations throughout the day was made. Representative portions from the diets were sampled for further laboratory analysis and to evaluate adequacy of observed nutrient levels. More than 20 different complementary food types (mostly an extension of family foods) prepared from various food items were observed. Dietary diversity of the foods was very poor. The average dietary diversity score was only 2.54, while animal-source foods and vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables were virtually absent. The energy and protein compositions of the diets, however, were sufficient. Energy density of 0.92 kcal/g, 1.24 kcal/g, and 1.41 kcal/g and protein density of 3.41 g/kcal, 2.18 g/kcal, and 2.48 g/kcal were observed in the diets of 6–8-month, 9–11-month, and 12–23-month age categories, respectively. The diets were poor in micronutrients. The observed nutrient density for Ca and Zn (mg/100 kcal) was significantly lower (P=0.000) than the desired levels. Similarly, the Fe level in the diets for 6–11 month old children was significantly lower than the desired nutrient density levels even when high bioavailability was accounted for. On the contrary, adequate nutrient density in the diets for 12–23 month old ­children was observed even when low bioavailability for Fe was accounted for. The complementary foods were energy dense. Micronutrients densities observed (Ca, Zn, and Fe), however, were very low as they continue to be the “problem nutrients”.

Keywords: food insecure, nutrient density, homemade, estimated daily nutrient intake

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